Friday, July 28, 2006

Update from National

I tried to post...yesterday? Every day is endless, so I'm not sure...and I had trouble maintaining my Internet connection. Things seem to be working okay right now, so I'll give it another try.

I'm tired and due at the unPRO party in twenty minutes, so these are some highlights:

Paranormal is still big. Duh.

Erotic romance and inspirational romance are the two fastest-growing subgenres. Double duh.

Did any of us really not know this? :)

I've met and seen lots of awesome people, some I've met in person before, some I've only met online, and some are new acquaintances and hopefully friends.

They gave away EIGHTEEN frickin' books in the goody bags this year! Plus the free books at lunches! Plus the books we buy at the inSANE literacy signing (we'll know tomorrow how much money was made). Plus the books given away in the Goody Room and at publisher signings. My FedEx bill is going to be enormous.

Have I said thank you? :)

I haven't made that many workshops, but I did catch a couple of panels and what's exciting to me is that everyone talks about the market being really open. Some things are harder sell than others, of course, but there is very little any given publisher isn't willing to look at (generally speaking). I love that. It may mean fewer sales per title for each author, but it also means more opportunity for all of us, more fun stretching our wings to write what excites us.

They want fresh twists, as always. Some recently acquired stories include cowboy vampires (HQN) and a not-quite-turned-vampire middle school teacher in a non-romance mystery (Cerridwen).

The Marriott Marquis has been great. Not totally glitch-free for everyone, but the staff is very friendly and helpful and pleasant, and they are working hard to make everything go smoothly, from setting up a shipping station near our registration desk to having staff all over the place for AV issues and directions when we get turned around or can't find something.

The parties have been great, the official events well-done, informative, fun, and exhausting. I'm having the time of my life.

If you have any specific questions or anything you want to hear about, let me know. I'll try to post photos on Monday before I leave for Virginia. :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Loving Loving Loving

I wasn't that excited, thinking about coming to National, even just yesterday. Normally I'm a pretty even person, not given to extremes of emotion for very long. (FOR VERY LONG, I said, Jim).

But now that I'm, I'm soooo thrilled to be.

I had dinner with Cathy McDavid and Carrie Weaver and Libby Banks, and then went over to the Marriott Marquis bar where I met Toni Allerdice and Sasha White, and then on the way back through the lobby I saw Colleen Gleason (of the Japanese Beetle Solution) and a bunch of Big Name Authors who knew the people I was with.

The energy here is FIERCE. Tonight is like casual night, which...thank god, because I was in travel clothes and sweaty bangs. It's no hotter here than it was in PA, maybe a bit cooler, but I'm not usually walking six blocks up hill. But everyone is so excited and happy and eager for everything the conference will give them.

At this point of the conference, I can't imagine ever missing one.

Note: I would do links for the authors I named, but blogger's not giving me the link button, and I'm too tired to do HTML. Sorry.

I'm Here!

There is a huge difference between the fresh, new, airy, TINY Harrisburg, PA, airport and the giant, endless, dingy, under-construction Atlanta airport. Anyone who reads this before traveling--TAKE THE TRAIN TO BAGGAGE CLAIM. That airport is endless.

But other than that, it was fine. My flight was fine, getting there was fine, finding baggage claim was easy, getting my bags was easy, finding Atlanta Link was easy, the van was ready to go as soon as I got on, and there was very little traffic for 5:00 on a Tuesday night. My hotel was first, also.

Then I went all dorky. Most of the women on the shuttle were for RWA and going to the other hotel. I was in the back so no one talked to me and had no idea I was one of them. They were saying it was the wrong hotel, and I said it was my hotel, and then, for no good reason, I said, "I'll be seeing all of YOU tomorrow!"

I got a lot of blank stares.

Luckily, I wasn't yet wearing a nametag.

So. I'm here! Can't wait for the festivities to begin!

On My Way

I'm all packed and ready to go. Checked in online, so I only need to hand over my luggage and get through security. Which has an average wait time of three minutes at this time of day, so I should slide right through.

I love flying. I don't get to do it nearly often enough. Takeoff and landing are my favorite parts, so I always try to get a window seat.

Wanna hear how brilliant I am? I bought a new large suitcase for this trip, and fit everything into it with room to spare. But when I weighed it (admittedly only an estimate because it doesn't fit on the scale) it looked like it might be a bit over the 50-lb. limit. So I took some stuff out and put it in a second suitcase.

That's not the brilliant part. I have to travel between hotels very early tomorrow morning, so lugging two suitcases isn't appealing. I decided just now to take an additional carry-on instead. I don't need to move much to make the big suitcase acceptable.

That's not the brilliant part, either. I was lugging my case around, thinking about weight limits, and of course thought about all the people who complain that when their luggage is over the limit, the clerk makes them take something out and carry it with them. They always whine about how stupid that is, because it still adds to the weight of the plane.

My brilliance? I realized it's not about crashing the plane. It's about workers' compensation. Though there's a lot of automation with baggage handling, workers still have to sling them around to get them on and off the plane and conveyors. Bags over 50 lbs. contribute to repetitive strain problems, back strains, neck strains, and so on. Trust me, I've worked in a workers' compensation field, and ANYTHING an employer can do to prevent claims, they're going to do. Even if it pisses us off.

This morning I also did some work on my new book. It feels SOOOOO good to be writing a book I'm excited about. My goal is 4 pages a day between now and my next writers meeting, and usually I'm checking my page count every few minutes, struggling to get to the minimum. But today, I flew right through 6.3 pages.

Here's my current total:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20,155 / 85,000

I won't have much to blog about tonight, but I'll try to hit the food court tomorrow afternoon or early Thursday. Tomorrow I have the Chapter Presidents Retreat (my newsletter editor is a finalist in the annual contest, which will be announced at the luncheon), meeting up with a friend I haven't seen in three years, attending the Literacy Autographing, and hooking up with some other friends with whom I'm embarking on a business venture. Should be a good day!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Title Help

It worked for MaryF, so I'm gonna give it a try. Though I wish Stacy Dawn, who came up with Mary's very awesome title of Breaking Daylight, read my blog. :)

Regan Miller has struggled for 18 years to balance a normal life for her daughter, Kelsy, with the knowledge that the child’s would-be kidnappers would try again. Regan and Kelsy’s training and constant vigilance prove their salvation when the kidnappers come for Kelsy at college and try to murder Regan in her bed.

They can run again, but this time they have Kelsy’s boyfriend and roommate to worry about, and Regan’s mysterious neighbor, Tyler Sloane, is either a hired protector or hired enemy. They can’t play defense their whole lives, or it will be a very short game. Somehow, Regan and Kelsy have to reach each other, then confront the strangers, both good and bad, who have managed to orchestrate their entire existence.

This is a romantic adventure currently titled Unbreakable. It kind of works, because the main heroine, the mother, is 100 percent fighter (think Linda Hamilton in T2 without the insane part). The secondary heroine, the daughter, is more like a willow branch than a bar of steel, but still doesn't break. Also, the secret that everyone is after lends itself to that title.

Unfortunately, can anyone read it without thinking "somber M. Night Shyamalan movie with Bruce Willis who never smiles"? I don't think so.

I appreciate any brainstorming you feel like throwing out there. Even if I don't use one of your suggestions, it may spark something else for me.

Countdown to National

I keep laughing at all the people who ask me if I'm packed and the ones who have been packed for a week already. I'm just not like that. I am lucky that I have nothing else requiring my attention today, but even if I still had the day job, I wouldn't be doing it until tonight. I'm tempted to wait until tomorrow morning, since I'm not leaving the house until 11. But I'll do it this afternoon, once I finish revising the beginning of Unbreakable my WIP.

Now I'm excited! Can't wait to see you all in HOTlanta!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Oooooohhhhhhhhh Again

I have no idea why I said Oooooohhhhhhhh last time. It came up when I started to type the title. I'm either unimaginative, or easily awed.

Today I'm awed by this (sorry for the blurry cell phone photo):

I think it's a Luna Moth caterpillar. I was gonna ask the more gardening-savvy of my readers if it was okay to leave on my tomato plant, but decided to look it up first. I hope, if I'm right, it stays to metamorphose and we get to see the new moth.

Of course, I'll be gone most of the rest of the two weeks, so it will probably be long well on its way by the time I come back.

In another gardening note, I have four o'clocks running rampant in my front "garden." The previous owners had a nice little patch of them next to the front door. I pulled out some bushes a couple of year ago, and have been spreading the four o-clock seeds across the front of the house. Every year, they decide to crowd the front stoop, and the more brutal I am with them, the bigger they get. Nothing seems to deter them, including the ravenous hordes of Japanese beetles making lace of their leaves.

Which was my other gardening question. I'm doing nothing to get rid of the beetles. The flowers are still blooming in the late afternoon, the plants growing tall and lush (if lacy). I was wondering if feeding the beetles such a nice buffet will keep them from my neighbors' roses, or if they will overpopulate and spread. I can just see the teenage beetles rebelling against the smothering of their fat parents and moving out to the American Beauties next door.

Yeah, THAT will endear me to people.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Always Wear A…

I almost forgot about promising to tell my embarrassing National story. Thanks to Blogging National for being intrigued and mentioning it so that I saw it this morning.

Okay. It was my first National, 2000, Washington, D.C. We’re going back there in a few years, so take note: the Marriott Wardman Park hotel is weird.

There are three towers, and even being there for five days, I never figured out how the room numbering went. It’s VERY VERY important to know what tower your room number is in.

My friend Ginny Aiken had offered to help me with my pitch—very first pitch, very first time meeting an editor face-to-face, very first big conference. I was very nervous. Also, I don’t have a good bathtub at home.

So I was soaking in the tub late Thursday night, trying to write my pitch, when Ginny called me back and said she could help me. I interpreted her room number to mean she was in my tower, on my floor, and said I’d meet her by the flowers in the little conversation grouping by the elevator. I threw on a T-shirt and shorts and went out to meet her.

She wasn’t there. I realized I hadn’t specified which floor—ground level or our floor. So I went down. She wasn’t there. I went back up. Looked at the room numbers on the range cards (you know, the ones that say these rooms to the left, these rooms to the right) and realized her number was not part of the range. She wasn’t in my tower. So she was probably on the other side of the hotel.

No biggie. It was nearly midnight. The hotel would be quiet, right? I wouldn’t run into anyone.

All of you who have been to National are now laughing so hard you can’t see the screen. But remember, this was my FIRST big conference, and it was still early Internet days. There weren’t dozens of people blogging about the way things work.

The Wardman Park has a lobby bar. That means right next to the registration desk is a massive area of tables and chairs, jam-packed with authors and industry professionals. And here’s me, walking around in my T-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

Did I mention I wasn’t wearing a bra?

I’d been intending to just be right outside my room, hunched over a pad. No one would notice. But now I’m crossing the massive lobby, passing by dozens if not a couple hundred people, back and forth from one tower to another, trying to find my friend.

But it gets worse.

I got into one of the tower elevators, and standing there at the back is…

Ashley Grayson.

Of the then Grayson and Grayson Literary Agency.

And I’m not wearing a bra.

I didn’t have my nametag on, of course, and I kept my head down, but he saw my pad and pen and asked if I was with RWA. So we chatted about the conference and how it was going so far, as I tried to strategically but casually hold my pad in front of my chest.

I never submitted to Grayson.

So, some things learned as a result of my misadventure:

1. At RWA's National Conference, people are up and around ALL THE TIME.

2. Editors and agents can be anywhere at any time.

3. Most importantly (and most ridiculously)...Always wear a bra.

P.S. I found my friend, we perfected my pitch, and it went fine, getting a request that was rejected eight months later by form letter.

Stand Beside the Ocean

I was listening to the radio this morning and that LeeAnn Rimes (I think--I'm a music idiot) song, "I Hope You Dance." She sang the line, "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean." And I thought, "I never feel small."

It's true, and it has nothing to do with being a woman of a certain size. The things that are supposed to make humans feel tiny, like vast starscapes or huge, craggy mountains, just...don't.

So that made me wonder if I'm arrogant. But I don't think so, because I never feel unsmall. I never think of myself as bigger than nature or of humanity as superior to it.

I do feel awed, and amazed, and inarticulate when faced with the beauty and majesty of such things. With the ocean, especially, though, I feel empowered. Like I really could do anything.

Even jog.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Budgeting National

Yesterday I finally got my prep/packing list done and my schedule organized. Like MaryF and Ember Case, I have a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of my whole schedule, including workshop possibilities. It's too big to print so I'm going to transfer the highlights each day. Usually the program has a place to fill in your schedule, and there are some author groups that make schedule cards for the goody room. They promote their work and the schedules are really handy.

So I was doing laundry this morning and started thinking about money. Some budget items are already spent, which is both a relief and misleading, because the conference registration and flight are half the cost of the whole event. I don't count new clothes in the budget, because they usually carry over to non-conference stuff. But then the little things really add up--tips for everyone, food, drinks, lattes, books, souvenirs...I start getting anxious thinking I won't be prepared.

Here's how my budget breaks down, beginning to end:

Conference registration, early...$325
I always plan to attend, and save the money to attend, so far in advance I can easily catch the early-bird registration fee.

Flight, booked in March...$320
I hate this part. I search and search for good fares, wait a little bit hoping they'll go down, then suddenly they jump up and I kick myself for not getting it when it was $265. Then someone else books a month after I do and pays half what I did. *sigh*

Shuttle from aiport to hotel and back, booked this morning...$29.00
The Atlanta Link, half the cost of a cab and easier than MARTA, save $2 each way booking online! But I'll be arriving at rush hour, something I didn't consider. Bah.

Hotel, sharing with two other people...$325
Plus whatever meals/drinks/Internet I charge to the room. Last time I was in the bar a lot, but not the two times before that.

This is a really rough estimate. I have to tip the hotel cleaning staff [and am unsure how much--is $3 a night each for three people fair?], the concierge for holding my bags, the driver of the shuttle, cabbies, and bellhops if I let them help me with my bags, which I probably won't and then will feel guilty for

This is a low budget for me. I usually spend more than double that at the Literacy Signing, but I have to be more careful this year. Includes raffle tickets for cool chapter gift baskets.

This is the biggie. The conference offers continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday, and I have lunch covered on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and dinner on Friday, but I hate to say no when friends want to go out the other days, even if it's an expensive place. These meals are the best opportunity to meet and hang with people you don't know, or people you know but only see at National.

So, grand total? About $1300. And remember, that doesn't include travel shopping for clothes or toiletries or zip ties for the luggage and so on. Is the event worth it?

Hell yeah.

Tomorrow I'll tell my elevator story as an example of what not to do at a National conference.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


It's HOT right here!

Peachtree Center offers FREE wireless internet connection in The Mall. With a battery-powered laptop, the internet is accessible in a "hot spot" of The Mall. Look for the designated areas in the South Food Court and near the Information Booth.

I thought that was worthy of its own post rather than another update. :)

For Your Inconvenience...

Early this morning my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but I know people from that area code...and, well, I'm pretty much incapable of ignoring a phone call unless I'm watching a football game (if I ever do let it go to voice mail, I check it immediately). So I answered it.

BIG mistake.

It was an automated call for "Ron Anderson" about his Citi Card. Wrong number. So just hang up, right? But no, they'd just keep calling and calling if I did that. So I waited through the menu choices:

"If this is Ron Anderson, please press one."

"If Ron Anderson is currently unavailable, please press two."

"If we have reached this number in error, please press three."

I pressed three and was asked to hold for a representative. Then it went on and on about stupid junk I don't remember, and finally someone came on the line.

And that's when my calm got seriously damaged.

"May I please have your 16-digit card number?"

If you're going to dial a wrong number, acknowledge the likelihood of dialing a wrong number, and ask your wrong number dialed recipient to HOLD, then you'd damned well better have a system in place so that representative knows what's going on.

And she sucked, too, because she kept interrupting me, talking over me, and yelling at me for yelling at her. I worked in customer service, and the fastest way to piss off your caller is to ridicule their annoyance. The fastest way to hook a customer for life is to SINCERELY agree with their issue and apologize for it and resolve their problem as soon as possible.

I think I'm going to go cancel my Citi Card.

Blogging National update:

I'd like to say the Atlanta Marriott Marquis financially rapes their guests, but that's a harsh and offensive way to put it. But that's how I feel about being charged $12.95 for a day of Internet access or 25 cents a minute for the wireless access in public areas. (Full disclosure: The $12.95 provides unlimited free local and long-distance calling, so that's nice for certain travelers, but not most of the RWA crowd who won't be in their rooms very much and probably, like me, have cell phones with free local and long-distance calls. The .25 per minute is after an uncertain amount for the first 15 minutes, quoted as being something like $2.95 or more.)

Why do you care? Because all of you (ha!) waiting at home for my scintillating reports, full of wit and verve and industry info (double ha!) may get less than I originally anticipated. As you may or may not know, I quit my job last month to write full time, and my writing income does not come close to replacing my non-writing income. I have to watch not only my pennies, but my rounded tax percentages, even. So we'll see. If I can't make it online, please do check out Blogging National often for those who have the big bucks and blog every day, and I'll give FULL reports when I return.

UPDATE: I took my own advice and headed over to Blogging National, and HER update days the Mall at Peachtree Center has free access. If so, I'll be over there every day, even if it's MIDNIGHT!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Thanks to Netflix, if a TV show gets enough critical and popular acclaim, I'll check it out, as long as it's something that seems mildly interesting. I may even add 24 to my queue.

But right now, it's Entourage. I just finished season 1, and beyond the "WTF?" response to a "season" being a lousy 8 episodes (I knew it going in, but it's still annoying), I actually enjoyed it. The second half of it.

I watched the first four eps, and wasn't charmed. Vince is a self-absorbed asshole who doesn't deserve the treatment he gets. Turtle is disgusting. Ari makes you want to rip his ear off with your teeth. And though I know it's naive, I'd like to believe that not every single person in Hollywood is doing drugs and having sex every five minutes.

Luckily, the show's not about Vince. It's about Eric, or "E," his best friend and manager, who still does drugs but is at least a considerate and well-mannered human being. It was enough--barely--to get me to watch the second disk. That, and I didn't get to the queue in time to stop it from coming.

The second half was amazingly different. Ari had moments of honesty and sincerity that made me actually like him. Turtle was still disgusting, but Johnny Drama was played by Kevin Dillon (who I've always really disliked) as endearing and sweet and much smarter than he acts most of the time. They're still doing drugs, but there's a complexity to the relationships now, a depth that took five episodes to develop, that make me glad I waited it out.

Looking forward to season two, with the hope that they'll bring in at least one woman who's not perfect and vacant. :)


Did you ever "accidentally" click on one of those Tickle IQ ads and get sucked into taking one of their IQ tests and then register with them because you HAD to see your score?

I kinda just did that.

S'what happens when you've been writing too long and producing too little and need to take a break. You do crazy things. Impulsive things. But then, it can lead to something interesting, too.

I won't say my score, 'cause it's not really relevant. IQ scores mean different things because different protocols have different ranges. But the REALLY interesting part is this:

"Your Intellectual Type is Insightful Linguist. This means you are highly intelligent and have the natural fluency of a writer and the visual and spatial strengths of an artist. Those skills contribute to your creative and expressive mind. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results."

I can't do visual art worth a damn, but those visual and spatial strengths would also contribute to my analytical ability. And of course, I *AM* a writer! Those tests are really awesome!

Almost makes me want to pay to see the 15-page report.

But not quite.

Quick Thoughts

My 7-year-old is writing a story. It's pretty stream-of-consciousness, and she doesn't like paragraphing, but it's got some good details. She has a writer's mind--she said she keeps writing a sentence, then backspacing to write it "the same idea, but different words."

I'm so proud.


I don't know why I read letters to the editor in People magazine. They are full of judgmental jerks. This week, there was one chastising Kirstie Alley for saying "if I can do it [lose weight], anyone can." This person, of course, snidely said if she got free portion-controlled meals from Jenny Craig she could do it, too. Sounds like big excuses to me. 'Cause if *I* got free portion-controlled meals? I still wouldn't lose weight, because those meals don't force me to exercise or prevent me from eating Pringles and ice cream and large bowls of buttered popcorn.


We had a slumber party here last night, four 11-year-old girls. While they were doing manicures, they voiced the following opinions:

--The voting age should be raised to 21 because some 18- and 19-year-olds are jerks

--Bush is such a good president, he should be able to run for another term

--If the new president doesn't care about kids, we (they) could all end up living on the street

--The No Child Left Behind Act sucks

In the same five-minute period, they also discussed:

--The new war in Israel

--The plane that was heading for the White House and crashed in PA, the heroism of those on board, and how they saved us ("But we weren't in the White House" said with a remarkable lack of "duh" in the tone)



There are three bills addressing stem cell research coming up for vote. One would allow embryos createde for in vitro fertilization and about to be destroyed to have stem cells extracted. Bush will veto the bill. Because, you know, if those stem cells aren't extracted, the embryos will live.

How come there are no activists protesting in vitro fertilization in the first place? I'm sure they're out there, but they aren't very visible. Why is it okay to create and destroy embryos because you want to have a baby, but not because you want to find a way to treat or cure debilitating and fatal diseases?

Those are rhetorical questions, by the way. I don't want to start a flame war here. But that doesn't mean you can't post your thoughts in the comments. Just no hate mail, please. :)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blogging National

I'm going to RWA's National Conference in Atlanta in (eek!) less than two weeks!

Let's see. Am I prepared?

__ Make packing list (nope)

__ Organize schedule (nope)

__ Keep track of who to see at the conference (ha!)

__ List goals and objectives (yeah, that would be smart)

Truth is, this is my fourth National conference, and my most unfocused. The first year was in Washington, DC, and it was to learn. I mostly attended workshops and met a bunch of people. I did also do some promotional activities with my first publisher, now defunct (Avid Press). But I was a true newbie and absorbed every minute like a very, very thirsty sponge.

The next one was a few years later in New York. That one was all about networking. Meeting the editor who was so interested in my work. Hooking up with authors writing for an exciting new line I was destined to write for. Talking to another editor about my work. Meeting more people. I also did a workshop for that one, and it was great fun.

The following year, I went to Dallas. That was the most laid-back of my conference experiences, probably because I'd become an "old pro." I had a plan, and every event had a purpose.

This year should be my most focused ever. I'm in the midst of Great Change. I parted ways with my old agent and am seeking a new one. I left my day job and am writing full time. Everything I do is focused on building my career. But even though I have a few specific people to meet, there is no overriding theme, no set of goals to accomplish, no Big Plan. Not sure if this is a mistake or not. I guess we'll see. Hey, maybe I'll be all about "going with the flow" and that flow will take me to huge things. HUGE!

Blogging has been around for a while, and last year most of the dirt (and boy, do I mean DIRT--you won't be seeing that from me) on Reno came out on blogs. This year, we've gone...shoot, I can't think of the word. Serves me right for blogging at 1:45 a.m. after spending over six hours in the ER. No, thank you, I'm fine, and so is he now. Anyway, it's a word like conglomerate that's not conglomerate that makes me think of the Mob. I bet Erica would know it.

ANYWAY. Many of us will be blogging from National. Picture hundreds of women sitting with laptops on the floor of the meeting areas and lobby, where there is free wireless access. :) And we are ORGANIZED, thanks to Jude. I'm thinking with this lineup? Any and all opinions and perspectives will be offered and debated and probably a few flame wars ignited. But not by me. Not here. Here is just going to be good stuff. :)

Join me!


You Are Mexican Food

Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


My answer to Jody's question in the last comment trail got me to thinking.

Conventional wisdom is that there are writers who plot everything before writing (plotters), writers who fly by the seat of their pants (often called "pantsers" but I prefer the seldom-used "flyers"), and hybrids who do both.

I'm a bit of a hybrid, but I almost never plot very far ahead. The books I have enjoyed writing most were books that I completely flew through, mainly because of the surprises that came up.

Some people assert, without allowing any flexibility at all, that a good suspense/mystery book CANNOT be written if it's not all plotted out in advance.

I say that's bunk.

Sure, there are writers, even writers who are normally flyers, who can't do it. And it certainly seems smarter and more logical to do it that way. But I've written several books with plots that contained secrets that I didn't know in advance. In one book, I didn't even know who the villain was until more than halfway into the book.

Some would point out that I said GOOD books, and that maybe my books written via the soaring method are not good. Maybe they have disconnects, and unfollowable clues, and lapses in logic. Maybe they do--it's often hard to judge your own work, of course.

But I don't think they do. "Flying" does not mean "scatterbrained." I write for a while, go back and revise and think ahead a little bit, write for a while more, hit an "ah-HA!" moment and go back to see where I need to seed clues, or make adjustments to events or backstory. I also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, have a subconscious layer to my writing, which lays in things without my knowing why, that later come to fruition. Maybe not all writers have that layering in their creative process, or maybe they're not in tune to that level of thought, or maybe the plotters are TOTALLY in tune to it and that's why they get it all up front.

The point is (yes, heh, I do have a point, not just rambling for fun LOL)...the point is that every writer has a different process, a different ability, and NO ONE should ever say that a way CAN'T be done or MUST be done. You do a lot of damage with those kinds of remarks.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I was listening to an old Firefly Talk podcast, and the question of the week was, "What is your favorite moment between Simon and River?" Lots of people had written in, and some of the scenes mentioned actually brought tears to my eyes.

Brief background:
River was a brilliant child sent to an Alliance Academy where they did unknown experiments and enhancements on and to her. She's psychic and strange. Simon is her older brother, a brilliant surgeon who gave up everything to rescue her and go on the run from the Alliance.

Some of those favorite scenes:

River: "You came for me, and found me broken. You gave up everything you had."
Simon: "Meme. [Chinese for sister] Everything I have is right here."

River has displayed her psychic abilities and been called a witch, dragged away to be burned. After failing to reason with the townsfolk, Simon climbs up on the platform, wraps his arms around her, and says, "Light it."

Simon sitting over his newly rescued sister as she drifts off to sleep, his thumb slowly stroking her hand, the expression on his face full of love and pain.

(Simon's been shot, is weakening)
Simon: "I'm sorry. I hate to leave."
River (sobbing): "No. No, Simon. You take care of me. You've always taken care of me." (Gathers herself, calms, and turns to face the room where the deadly Reavers await them.) "My turn."

Regular readers know I am a Firefly/Serenity obsessive, and I love everything about the show. But I have to admit, nothing about it touches me as much as the relationship between Simon and River. And I can't figure out why.

It may be because of the depth of my feelings for my own brother. With us, the relationship is reversed, as I'm the oldest. And he's not as brilliant as River.

Okay, I'm not as brilliant as Simon, either.

He's also not damaged like River, and neither one of us has been tested. But I believe the depth of our love for each other would take us to the same place, if one or the other of us was that threatened. (Andy, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. :) )

My parents divorced when we were very young, which meant, despite the three-year age difference, that my brother was the strongest male influence in my life until I met my husband. I've always had a lot of admiration and respect for him, and he SAYS he has the same for me. Luckily, we live thousands of miles apart so I can't test the limits of it. But that might help explain why the brother/sister relationship is so much more compelling to me than any romantic relationship, even though I'm a romance writer!

That got me to thinking. I have, amazingly, not written many books that feature a strong brother/sister relationship. None of my published work even have brothers in them, I don't think. I have a book with a brother and sister whose relationship develops into a strong one, and the third book in that series, only partly written, will have some elements of that. One book I'm shopping around now has a heroine motivated by the death of her brother, but he's been gone a long time, so his influence is only historical.

Ah, but then there's my superhero book. I don't plot very far ahead when I write. I like to see where the story takes me, and my subconscious does a lot of the work. So I'm writing, and this character shows up, and I know he's going to be important to the heroine, but he seems very intensely interested in the heroine's best friend. And suddenly, out of the middle of nowhere, it hit me--he's the brother!

That's all I'll say. It was a wonderful moment, and in the car, thinking about writing a brother/sister worthy of the tears in my eyes over Simon's willingness to sacrifice, I realized this book will be really awesome to write. I've put it aside to catch up on other things, and I'm almost there.

So what am I doing here, for Pete's sake??????

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pure Genius

JJ Abrams. Joss Whedon. And now Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. All writing GODS.

I just got home from the midnight showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. And the fact that I'm blogging at 3:10 in the morning will tell you what I thought of the movie.

It was amazing. Incredible. Fantastic. It made me think, every fifteen minutes, "how do they come UP with this stuff?"

I promise, only mild spoilers in this post. You MUST go see it, IMMEDIATELY. It will make your whole summer.

Jack is Jack, though a bit more serious, a bit more intense.

Elizabeth has matured a bit. She's as kick-ass as she was in the first one, but fiercer, more confident, more in control. Several of the crew returned, as did the undead monkey (if you plan to rewatch The Curse of the Black Pearl again before you go see Dead Man's Chest and never waited through the credits, make sure you do this time). Even some of the people on Tortuga are back. Norrington is back, and his life and his role are very different than before.

But the whole cake, for me, is Will. Ah, Will. I commented in an earlier post (or comment to the post) that Orlando Bloom is different in his current media appearances. He's got a confidence and maturity he didn't have in his last few sets of media go-rounds, and I thought it might show in his performance. It really does. Some of it, of course, is the writing. Will Turner is a leader. People follow him unquestioningly, and he never hesitates in his expectations that they will. He really sells it.

The story is complex, but unlike with the first one, there's no need for a second viewing to understand what's going on--why they need who and where and how come that happened a certain way. The relationships are complex, too, as Will deals with his discovery of his father, and with...well, I can't say, 'cause it would spoil.

Like the Lord of the Rings movies, there is no final resolution to this one. It leads directly and specifically into At World's End, the third movie, with a big surprise that I should have seen coming before I did. Someone in the audience actually yelled, "holy crap!"

When I left the theater, I had no complaints. No questions or disappointments. I'm sure that will change, after I see it again Tuesday night and my pickier friends start complaining. As I come down off my entertainment high, I've already thought of one question without an answer, though it's something that can be rationalized and in no way detracts from the film.

But right now, this film is without a doubt the movie of the summer. Superman Returns' studio has to be really, really happy they released before Dead Man's Chest did, because there's just no competition. And woe betide anything that comes after. This movie is more than entertainment, more than spectacle.

It's spectacular.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Best. Evanovich. Ever.

You always hope your favorite authors will just get better and better. For me, most of the time, they don't. They grow stale, or the problem is me, and my tastes change. Sometimes, when they branch out, I don't like the new stuff as much as the old stuff. Sometimes, I like the new stuff better.

I just read Twelve Sharp, Evanovich's latest. It's a fully qualified 10. Out of the 37 books and 10 novellas I've completed this year (and not counting the 15 books I started and didn't complete), I've only scored eight of them a 10. And a few of those didn't FEEL like 10s, but were 10s because I didn't really have any complaints.

This book has humor. No other author makes me literally laugh out loud. She does, a dozen times per book. It has suspense, though of the light kind (my favorite). But most importantly, it has Ranger.

Lots and Lots of Ranger. Like, three times as much as any other Evanovich book has had.


Ranger is right up there with Roarke with most readers. What makes those two so damned appealing? Part of it is what others call the "bad boy" element, but what I call intensity. Yes, there is a bit of the criminal in Ranger, as we don't ever know how far he has gone over the line. And with Roarke, because he did a lot of "wrong" things in his fight to survive and succeed. But more than the actual criminal pasts, I think they are appealing because they focus and control their passions.

They are also appealing because of how much they care about and for the heroines, yet let them do what they need to do without interference. Their rescues are partnerships, not superiority issues. They respect their heroines the way they are, and don't try to change them. They're also funny and real and complex and have flaws that make them even more appealing.

Joe Morelli, the other hero of the Stephanie Plum books, is the same way. He's just tamer. Most readers seem to lean in his direction,, Ranger. I have no trouble with Stephanie's inability to choose. The longer this tension goes on, the better (with interludes desired in between, of course).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Real World

I was just reading a Q&A in the Parade newspaper supplement that talked about Ryan Seacrest telling Simon Cowell that he doesn't live in the real world because he's so rich.

We hear that all the time. College students don't live in the "real world." Even though they are often exposed to more cultures and more temptations and opportunities than they may have at any other time of their lives. Rich people don't live in the "real world," even though their money doesn't insulate them from illness and death and business obstacles and emotional pain. Clergy, politicians, doctors, celebrities...all are accused of living somewhere that others, apparently, don't have access to. Some kind of bubble, I guess, or an alternate dimension.

It's not that the world is not "real." It's just different. Sometimes the accusation comes from jealousy, but mostly it seems to come from a perception that certain realms are immune from "the bad." That somehow, the single mother trying to support three kids on minimum wage is living a more "real" life than I am, with my creature comforts and financial security. But that's not a valid assertion to make, to anyone.

Totally unrelated comment:

I'm getting really tired of the "surrender" jokes made at France. It's been decades. Get over it!!!!!